Heinrich Hosts Forum To Assist Small Businesses, Nonprofits Navigate COVID-19 Funding, Relief

ALBUQUERQUE – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) hosted a teleconference with hundreds of small business owners and nonprofit leaders across New Mexico to assist them in accessing new funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The new law contains major provisions to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses.

Senator Heinrich convened a panel of experts in New Mexico to hear directly from small business owners and nonprofit leaders and to answer their questions. Joining Senator Heinrich on the teleconference today was New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley; District Director of the Small Business Administration New Mexico District Office, John Garcia; Executive Director of the New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network, Russell Wyrick; and Small Business Advisor for the Office of the Governor, Daniel Schlegel.

“Small businesses and nonprofits are the cornerstones of thriving communities across our state and need support now more than ever,” said Heinrich. “The economic relief measures we passed in the CARES Act funds grants and loans from the Small Business Administration to provide essential support for New Mexico small businesses and nonprofits to keep their employees on payroll and meet their expenses. I am committed to holding the Trump administration accountable for delivering this much needed relief to our state as soon as possible.”

Senator Heinrich, along with the entire New Mexico federal delegation, sent a letter yesterday calling on the Trump administration to quickly remedy its faulty implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

According to figures released by the Small Business Association (SBA) on April 14, more than 5,300 loans to New Mexico small businesses, totaling more than $1.1 billion, have been approved by the SBA under the Paycheck Protection Plan. Obligated loans do not necessarily represent funds that have actually been disbursed, and the New Mexico delegation is fighting to ensure these funds are expeditiously distributed and to ensure that all eligible New Mexico businesses get their fair share of funding through PPP, as Congress considers increasing funds for the program.

You can listen to the teleconference in full HERE.

Senator Heinrich’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thank you for joining today’s forum to help New Mexico small business owners and nonprofit leaders learn how to access new funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security—or CARES—Act.

The CARES Act is the new law that we passed last month in Congress. It contains major provisions to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses.

Small businesses and nonprofits are the cornerstones of thriving communities across our state and need support now more than ever.

I want to do everything I can to help you navigate these new resources effectively so that you can focus on running your business and supporting your community.

That is why I worked with the Small Business Administration, our Small Business Development Centers, and other partners to put together this forum.

I am grateful to have our panelists on the line today who will share some brief opening remarks and then take your questions.

I’m pleased that we will be joined by John Garcia, of the New Mexico District Office of the Small Business Administration.

He will help walk us through the new programs available to your small business or nonprofit through the CARES Act including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

These programs are intended to provide much needed funding to struggling businesses and nonprofits across the country.

We’ll also hear from Russell Wyrick, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network.

He will discuss how you can get connected to a local small business advisor and the support they can offer.

We’ll also have Daniel Schlegel, the Small Business Advisor in the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

And finally, we’re joined by New Mexico Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley, who will be able to let us know more about how the state is assisting workers with unemployment insurance benefits.

I hope you will learn more what resources are available to you and the processes you and your employees need to follow in order to receive support.

Before I open it up to our panelists and then to your questions, however, I want to express to you that I am deeply aware of how much this public health crisis has wreaked havoc on employers and their workers across every industry and in every corner of our state.

Whole sectors of our economy, including our tourism and hospitality industries, have been completely upended.

The measures we have taken to make sure everyone stays home are absolutely the right thing to do to protect the health of our neighbors and friends.

But we need to make sure all of those who are temporarily shutting down their businesses or being forced to lay off workers and staff for this righteous cause are made whole.

That’s why I fought so hard to secure major provisions in the CARES Act to provide relief to small businesses and non-profits hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses.

The CARES Act includes $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program – or PPP – which can provide up to $10 million in loans from the for small businesses and nonprofits with up to 500 employees.

These loans can be converted to grants if employers spend at least 75% of their loan on payroll and maintain their previous payroll for at least 8 weeks beginning at the start of the loan.

The CARES Act also funded an additional $10 billion for the already existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan program at the SBA.

I fought hard last month to be sure New Mexico small businesses could be eligible for these loans during this pandemic.

Much of this call will focus on how you can apply for support from these key parts of the CARES Act.

But I will be the first to say that this aid is not reaching New Mexicans quickly enough.

While many small businesses have applied for assistance in New Mexico, it wasn’t until late last week that I had confirmed that the first businesses in New Mexico were starting to see funds come through.

That’s nothing short of infuriating.

There’s absolutely no excuse for this taking so long.

The CARES Act also authorized the Treasury Department to designate many more financial institutions as new SBA eligible lenders.

The PPP loan program’s success rests on this expansion of SBA’s lending network.

The Trump administration needed to implement these programs rapidly and, in my view and I’m sure the view of many of the business owners on the line, too long has passed in each step without even close to enough transparency on progress.

When so many of our small businesses and nonprofits can’t hold out another week, this is not the time for foot-dragging or excuses.

I will keep pushing the Administration to urgently and efficiently expand its lending network.

And I will hold them accountable every step of the way to deliver the help New Mexicans need as quickly as humanly possible.

The lack of transparency and any poor execution of these programs needs to be fixed right away.

People’s livelihoods are on the line.

We need to get this assistance out to our small business owners and nonprofits.

I hope this call will connect many of you to the help you need.

And I encourage you to please stay in touch with my office if we can help with navigating the processes to apply for assistance.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who are doing your part during this deeply challenging time.

It goes without saying that many New Mexicans are worried about how they will make it through the weeks and months ahead. These are deeply uncertain times.

But I am certain that we are doing the right thing to literally save the lives of our fellow New Mexicans during this pandemic.

I am fighting to deliver the resources our health care workers and first responders need to keep us all healthy and safe.

I am committed to supporting New Mexico's small business owners and nonprofits throughout this crisis and working with all of you to rebuild thriving local economies across our state when this is all over.